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2022 Channel Chiefs: Rising To The Challenge

Rick Whiting

The top channel executives at the leading IT vendors have devoted much of the last two years to meeting the rapidly changing needs of their channel partners and their customers amidst the pandemic. But they never stopped planning for the long game. Here are our 2022 Channel Chief honorees.

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The past two years have been marked by the global COVID-19 pandemic, economic upheaval and fundamental – and likely long-lasting – changes in how businesses and organizations operate. That certainly includes the IT industry and how IT vendors, along with their solution provider and strategic service provider partners, meet their customers’ rapidly evolving needs.

The IT industry itself, meanwhile, shows no signs of slowing down. Gartner is forecasting that worldwide IT spending is expected to reach nearly $4.5 trillion in 2022, up 5.1 percent from 2021. And that includes a nearly 8 percent surge in demand for managed and consulting IT services to $1.28 trillion this year.

All this has increased the demands on channel chiefs and the partner programs they oversee. And these executives have risen to the challenge.

Who are the standout channel chiefs in the IT industry? Here you can find the complete list of the CRN 2022 Channel Chiefs, along with their profiles and their responses to such questions as the biggest keys to success and biggest challengers for their partners in 2022. The 50 Most Influential Channel Chiefs of 2022 are an elite group drawn from the larger pool of honorees that represent the cream of the IT channel crop—leaders who drive the channel agenda and evangelize the importance of channel partnerships.”

“Last year the ongoing pandemic accelerated business to the cloud. For all partners, their businesses had to pivot to a services, renewal and customer satisfaction model to match end customer expectations,” said Poornima Ramaswamy, executive vice president of global solutions and partners at data and analytics platform provider Qlik. “Partners making this transition were figuring out on the fly how to add value for their customers through every touchpoint during the service term.”

In mid-2021 King of Prussia, Pa.-based Qlik updated its partner program, including adding a cloud services track and new incentives for partners who influence and co-sell Qlik’s Software-as-a-Service products – with the goal of helping channel partners move beyond the traditional reseller model to an expanded emphasis on recurring revenue and customer life-cycle value.

“We committed significant resources to help them build profitable and thriving recurring revenue businesses around cloud,” Ramaswamy said. “At the same time, we were investing in deepening our partners’ technical skills in support of our end-to-end active intelligence platform with new training programs, hands-on lab environments and role-based learning pathways. It was a busy year delivering on both fronts at the same time.”

At OpsRamp, a developer of IT operations management tools, channel chief Paul Brodie oversaw a major revamp of the company’s channel program in 2021. “We had a partner program, but it was kind of table stakes and we needed to do a refresh,” said Brodie, who became vice president of global channel sales earlier in the year.

San Jose, Calif.-based OpsRamp, which sells 100 percent through the channel, updated its partner program to offer what the company described as “a more partner-friendly profit-sharing model,” along with enhanced lead sharing, more comprehensive sales assistance, and other resources. “Margins are traditionally small, and we wanted to change that,” Brodie said.

At Tibco Software channel chief Tony Beller oversaw the launch of a new partner program with the goal of unifying multiple programs that had evolved to serve the company’s OEM, reseller and systems integrator partners. Beller, senior vice president of the Tibco worldwide partner ecosystem and OEM sales, also had his hands full bringing channel partners from Information Builders – which Tibco acquired at the start of 2021 – into the Tibco family.

Tibco is counting on its partners in 2022 to not only extend the company’s sales reach, but also provide professional services capabilities around Tibco’s data integration, connectivity and analytics software. “We need our partner ecosystem to help us scale in delivery capacity in the market to sustain our growth,” Beller said. One step Tibco took in 2021 to achieve that was by granting nearly 12,000 certifications to partner personnel during two partner certification days. (Tibco’s channel operations will also likely face challenges later in 2022 around the company’s recently announced plans to merge with Citrix Systems.)

“It’s really about enablement and making sure we have transactional velocity with our top 50 partners,” said Brodie of OpsRamp’s focus in 2022, specifically citing planned demand-generation activity.

Qlik’s Ramaswamy says the goal this year is maintaining a customer-first approach and helping partners leverage the company’s active intelligence cloud platform to increase market share. “We have an incredible partner ecosystem and the right offerings at the right time for what customers need – we just need to execute.

“Supporting those efforts, we’ll continue to add more qualified partners that align with our vision, and for existing partners we’re increasing the number of field resources, enablement offerings and digital marketing campaigns to support joint pipeline development, expanding adoption and recurring revenue generation,” Ramaswamy said. The company is also developing more targeted offerings across various partner types like global, national and regional systems integrators to align with their go-to-market strategies and “deepening our relationships” with our strategic cloud alliances partners, she added.

Rick Whiting

Rick Whiting has been with CRN since 2006 and is currently a feature/special projects editor. Whiting manages a number of CRN’s signature annual editorial projects including Channel Chiefs, Partner Program Guide, Big Data 100, Emerging Vendors, Tech Innovators and Products of the Year. He also covers the Big Data beat for CRN. He can be reached at rwhiting@thechannelcompany.com.

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